X

Have feedback / suggestions? Let us know!

NASCAR

Denny Hamlin Needs to Regain his Dominance at Martinsville

 

Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

Last week at Kansas Speedway, Denny Hamlin had a lack luster day and finished thirteenth.  In the olden days before the new points system and the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup a thirteenth place finish wouldn’t be so bad.  With the guys he is chasing for the championship recovering and finishing ahead of him it ended up being a bad day.  This is another week and Denny Hamlin has a great chance to get those points back.  This week NASCAR is at the paper clip speedway called Martinsville for the TUMS Fast Relief 500.

The Martinsville Speedway is a 1/2 mile track, .526 miles to be exact.  Many people refer to it as the paper clip track because if you look at it from above it looks exactly like a paper clip.  There is 12 degrees of banking in the turns and the straights are flat.  Since it is a short track the race is 500 laps not miles.

This track can have two grooves of racing but generally only has one to one and a half.  Track position is very important.  Qualifying will be more important here than most any other tracks.  Pit strategy and performance will also be important in order to keep track position and perhaps gain some while on pit road.

Every week we look at Driver Ratings in order to see who has a great chance.  This week at Martinsville is no exception.  Looking at those ratings would seem to indicate that Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon with ratings of an astounding 121.4 and 120.8 would be the ones to beat.  Denny Hamlin is next in line though with a rating of 113.4.

A driver’s average finish is also a good measure to compare who might do well at a particular track.  When looking at average finish it doesn’t change much.  We are still left with the same three players.  Jimmie Johnson leads with an average finish of 5.8 but is closely followed by Denny Hamlin at 6.4.  Jeff Gordon is next with an average finish of 7.1.  All the other drivers could probably just park as the next highest average finish is Dale Earnhardt Jr. at 12.6.

Looking further to who has the actual wins to back up the statistics is where it gets interesting.  Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven wins but he hasn’t won here since 2005.  Jimmie Johnson is next in line with six wins replacing Jeff as the driver to beat, but he hasn’t won since 2009.  Denny Hamlin replaced Jimmie as the driver to beat and has four wins.  Denny’s last win was in the fall of 2010.  That year he won both races.  Denny was asked why he didn’t get back to victory lane.

Fuel strategy — one time. It was when we finished 12th — we were leading the race and pretty much dominating and got caught on pit road with a caution and went a couple laps down.”  Denny added, “Then after that, this year — the spring race is the one race where we did not run well. We had some setup issues that we found in the car afterwards, after the race was over – some mistakes that we made with our setup, basically putting the wrong pieces in the wrong places. So, that is hopefully why we ran so bad in the spring where we finished decent but not great. And so hopefully that’s rectified.

Denny Hamlin is 20 points from Brad Keselowski in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  Jimmie Johnson is seven points from Brad.  There are only four races left so Denny has to capitalize at those tracks where he is good at.  Martinsville is a great track for Denny and he needs to continue that trend in order to keep himself in the hunt for the championship.  By the way if Brad Keselowski stays true to form with his driver rating of 82.3 and an average finish of 13.4, the points should be very close after the checkered flag flies at Martinsville.

Other items of note this weekend is Dale Earnhardt Jr. will return from his recuperation from a concussion.  Tony Stewart won this race last year on his way to winning three of the last four races on his way to the Championship.

If you can’t get to Martinsville Speedway, the race will be on ESPN Sunday, October 28th at 1:00 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is the Lead NASCAR writer for RantSports.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary. On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary

Top 12 Driver Rating at Martinsville
Jimmie Johnson………………….. 121.4
Jeff Gordon………………………… 120.8
Denny Hamlin…………………….. 113.4
Tony Stewart……………………… 101.5
Dale Earnhardt Jr………………… 100.1
Kyle Busch…………………………. 94.4
Kevin Harvick………………………. 93.9
Ryan Newman…………………….. 90.1
Jeff Burton………………………….. 88.9
Clint Bowyer……………………….. 87.9
Jamie McMurray………………….. 83.2
Brad Keselowski………………….. 82.3
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (15 total) among active drivers at Martinsville Speedway